My HTIB (Onkyo HT-S6200) speakers were just not getting the job done - lack of mid-range, fullness and definition. My house loves a good movie; so, I decided to start the research on a reasonable upgrade. Based on budget, I decided on upgrading the front speakers for now with surrounds and a sub in the (near?) future. For now, I'll keep using the Onkyo AVR (HT-R670 130W/channel), the surround speakers and the sub (SKW-770/10"/290w).
Based on my research and local availability these are the speakers I auditioned:
Polk RTi A1, CSi A4 ($589 local with tax)
Ascend CBM-170SE, CBM-340SE ($622 shipped)
SVS SCS-02 ($515 shipped spring sale, $634 shipped regular)
Others Considered (reason excluded):
Arx A2, A3 (Not flush wall mountable, rear ported)
Axiom M3, M22 (cost, metal tweeter - friend cited harshness)
Hsu (rear ported, comments on narrow sound stage)
Infinity (had them before, wanted to try something else)
Klipch (limited time, horn tweeter)Audition Setup:
Room: 12' x 18' open at the back, open doorway near front left
Decision criteria/factors: sound quality (neutral, full, well defined), decent aesthetics (WAF indifferent or better), wall mountable, 85% movies, $500-$650 budget
Audition material: Shins "Oh, Inverted World", Wincing the Nights Away, Robbie Williams "Swing When You're Winning", Beck "Mutations", Fight Club (various scenes), Star Trek BD (various scenes), Batman: Dark Night BD (various scenes), Various HBO TV Shows (AT&T UVerse), Aliens, Band of Brothers - Music in stereo, Movies in 5.1 DTS Master-Audio
- L & R wall mounted using and Omnimount-20 (ball & socket type)
- Center on a shelf below TV
- Audessy EQ calibratedResults:General comments
: I'm just a guy listening to speakers. No claims of audiophile ears. All I know is what I like. In my opinion, you can't go wrong with any of these. All have great, seamless sound and definition. Nuances noted below.Scoring
: Three star max, relative to each other not to all speakersPolk RTi A1, CSi A4 (Black)
Clean, detailed, good imaging, thinnest bass of the bunch but with a sub likely unnoticeable, slightly bright but not in a fatiguing way
Best of the three, curved wood enclosure, edge to edge cloth grills, silver/gray accents
Keyhole and mounting stem support at the top, large rubber feet on the back to protect the wallAscend CBM-170SE, CBM-340SE (Black)
Superb, rich, full sound. Incredible bass from such a small speaker. CBM-340 needs 6-8" from the wall or it's slightly boomy.
Worst of the bunch. WAF was not acceptable ("too speakery & hangs funny"). Cloth grill slightly smaller than speaker face.
Mounting plate attaches at the bottom of the CBM-170SE; so, speaker leans out from the bottom. Great for the rear port distance, bad for aesthetics.SVS SCS-02 (Black)
Clean, neutral sound, tight bass, massive sound stage - wow factor in movies the others didn't have
Simple, understated. Tall and skinny. The metal grill covers the entire face of the speaker and has a slight curve.
Dual keyholes for flush mounting and mounting plate support at the top.Decision:
For my setup and needs the SVS set was the best fit. Serious "I'm at a movie" sound. I'd need more room for the Ascends and the SVSs beat the Polks in sound. If I was setting up a listening room, I'd get the Ascends - assuming spaced well..
If you're wondering why I went with the 3 SCS-02s instead of the 2 SBS-02 + 1 SCS-02, it was because of their spring sale. Sounds great to me.
I've linked a few shots. The SCS-02 are still mounted as I mentioned. If you've got questions, glad to share what I can. Sincerely appreciate all the feedback in the forums for quests of this sort!
Polk Rti A1 and Ascend 170 size compared to Xbox 360 Controller:
Ascend CBM-170SE Wall Mounted 1
Ascend CBM-170SE Wall Mounted 2
Current Setup with the SCS-02 LCR wall mounted (center soon to be flush mounted under the shelf)